Apple Computers are ready to drag RealNetworks out into the street by their hair and beat the ever-living shit out of them, figuratively speaking. Apple came out yesterday with some tough words, accusing RealNetworks of using hacker tactics to "break into" their iPod digital music players. As previously reported, RealNetworks unveiled a new technology called "Harmony" that allows songs purchased and downloaded on the RealNetworks online store to be played on the Apple iPod, something that was previously impossible. Apple is obviously very protective of their baby, especially since iPod sales now account for 12% of its revenue and more than 100 million songs have been downloaded on its iTunes Music Store.
RealNetworks, of course, says that their technology is completely legal and actually benefits the consumer, as their downloads are of higher quality. Inevitably, this will be one for the courts to decide. Both parties arguments will center around the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was passed into law in 1998. Apple claims that RealNetworks "Harmony" technology is in violation of this law, which was put into place to make tampering with technology designed to protect copyrighted works illegal, while Real claims that they, of course, are not in violation at all.
Read Apple's official statement below:
We are stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod(R), and we are investigating the implications of their actions under the DMCA and other laws. We strongly caution Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Real's Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods.